Monday, 20 July 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #330: Pound Foolish


Word on the street is that Sony is the front runner to make some sort of feature film from the 80 hours of rehearsal footage, and pre-shot interstitial material the late pop star filmed just before his death.

Now the price is rumored to be north of $50 million. Which I find rather interesting, because the first reports said that the bidding would start at $50 million. Since they're not bragging about how frenzied the bidding was, or how much higher than $50 million the final price will be, I have the feeling that bidding wasn't particularly frenzied, or that AEG will be getting much more than starting price. At least that's my suspicion.

Anyway, this brings me to the price itself. $50,000,000 seems a tad high to me for something that may never be more than a ghoulish curiosity. Because the reports I've seen about those rehearsals say that Jackson just couldn't deliver the energy that made his early performances so popular due to age, poor health, and a reported loss of passion for performing. It strikes me that Sony will have their work cut out for them if they're going to make anything out of the 80 hours of footage that won't come across as a redux of the whole Britney Spears/MTV Awards fiasco.

Now MTV used that to get their logo on every infotainment show in the world, but Sony will be buying into a different situation. I'm talking $50 million + to buy the footage, several million in post production costs to make it into something coherent, then promotion and distribution, which could be anywhere from another $50-$100 million+ added on top. This could end up costing Sony anywhere between $100-$200 million, which means that the film would have to be a blockbuster of
Transformers/Harry Potter levels to make a profit in theaters. Despite the recent canonization of Jackson in the aftermath of his demise, that sort of excitement won't be at the same fever pitch by the time the film comes out. I don't really see a concert/rehearsal film making that kind of money, even when you put DVDs into the equation.


Once upon a time a 2oth Century Fox had a show on the enchanted Fox Network called Futurama, created by Matt Groening. It did okay, I thought it's satire was a tad ham-fisted, but it had its fans. However, the Fox Network didn't think there were enough of them, so they shit-canned the show.

But that wasn't the end of this little fairy tale. Original DVD movies did very well, reviving interest in the show, and Comedy Central offered to buy new episodes for their channel.

20th Century Fox seemed happy at first to get the show moving again, but decided that they didn't need the original cast, and put out a call for cheaper replacements.

And then it was revealed that the 20th Century Fox was in fact not a Wicked Witch, but a Witless Witch.

I can't keep up the faux-fairy tale spiel, so I'll cut it out, and tell you why 20th Century Fox has its head up its ass but thinks its brilliant...

The fans of
Futurama are surprisingly dedicated to the show. They watch the reruns, and the DVDs and can recite dialogue from their fave episodes. They are going to notice that the voices they have loved are gone, replaced by illegal immigrant labour, and they are going to resent it, big time. The fans are going to hold it against the new show, and most likely avoid it as a pale imitation, or rip-off, of their beloved original, and they're going to tune out.

That's why the move was stupid, but here is my theory as to why Fox thinks they're being clever.

Comedy Central is owned by a rival company, and Fox doesn't want a rival to have any success with something that they considered a failure. So they're going to sabotage this iteration of
Futurama, and gloat about their rival failing.

Of course, they are ruining the success of the show as well as ruining the potential those new
Futurama episodes could have in syndication, because Fox will no doubt foist them upon the broadcasters of the original Futurama, and drive those hard core fans away from that as well.

The show will fade from syndication, and an opportunity to revive a franchise and make it work will be missed.


  1. WTH Fox? The original show only had like... 5 voice actors for a cast of thousands.

    I swear if they do this, I will turn violent. (yes, I am a hardcore lover of Futurama, but I don't hold it against you D)

  2. I didn't hate the show. I was just ambivalent about it. Maybe I'm too demanding, I've been unable to enjoy American TV comedy in years.

    And I don't hold your drooling mindless fandom against you Nate. :p